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Aboriginal Circle Court’s ‘Strong’ Sentencing Impresses RSPCA ACT Senior Inspector

An Aboriginal Circle Court has found 37 year old Macquarie woman, Shay Beattie guilty of the failure to provide adequate food for her dog, Thug. Ms Beattie was convicted before the Galambany Court consisting of Indigenous Elders, a specialised court within the ACT Magistrates Court established to sentence Indigenous offenders who plead guilty.

Ms Beattie was ordered to pay $1,385 in reparation to RSPCA ACT and received a 2 year Good Behavioural Order, 100 hours of Community Service and a 10 year Animal Ban.

RSPCA ACT Senior Inspector Catherine Croatto had this to say regarding the sentence, “Whilst yet another animal suffered due to an owner not prepared to provide for his basic needs, I was impressed with the strong sentencing procedure of the Galambany Court. With this defendant admonished by Aboriginal Elders, we can only hope that she realises the suffering she caused to this beautiful dog.”

In June 2014 RSPCA ACT Inspectors attended a complaint at the residence regarding concerns for an animal at the premises. RSPCA ACT Inspectors attended the location where they found a single skeletal dog named Thug in an unkempt yard strewn with rubbish and no shelter. Thug was desperately attempting to tear open heavy duty plastic bags in an attempt to access food scraps.

Due to his poor condition, Inspectors made the decision to seize him and take him to RSPCA ACT for a veterinary examination. It was revealed that the underweight condition of the dog was likely due to underfeeding.

Upon speaking with the owner, the Inspectors agreed to release the dog back into her care provided that she made drastic changes in regards to his welfare. Ms Beattie assured Inspectors that he would be kept in a healthy condition and collected him from the RSPCA Weston shelter shortly afterwards with dog food provided by RSPCA..

Upon a return visit by Inspectors in November 2014, Thug was sighted over the rear fence. Once again Thug was extremely skinny with his ribs, vertebrae and pelvis being clearly visible. The yard was nearly impenetrable by long grass and rubbish with no shade or water for the dog despite being a particularly hot day.

Thug was then taken to the RSPCA Shelter where he was examined by a veterinarian again. The subsequent veterinary examination resulted in Thug being given a body condition score of 2.5/9 which is extremely underweight for his size.

While in the care of RSPCA ACT for less than a month, Thug was able to gain 3.3kg of body weight, demonstrating that he was easily able to gain weight even in the sometimes stressful environment of the shelter environment.

The professional opinion of the treating veterinarian was that Thug’s condition was the result of starvation. The fact that the owner had clearly been shown that Thug could gain weight during Thug’s first visit to the Shelter (June 2014), but still failed to provide adequate food thereafter, showed a disregard for the needs of an animal under her care.

RSPCA ACT CEO Tammy Ven Dange was happy with the sentence given, “This is only one example of where our team has gone above and beyond to provide support and education to an owner. Despite giving the Defendant a second chance and even free food and vet treatment, she failed to take responsibility to properly care for her dog. It’s obvious that in cases like this, no assistance would ever be enough to change the owner’s behaviours, and therefore our Inspectors will always intervene in these situations to ensure the health and welfare of the animal – even if this means rehoming them for a better life.”

Thug has since been renamed and rehomed.